Every second, there are more than 54,000 Google searches. On average, Americans spend more than 10 hours a day on a screen. Is your business reaching them?
Inbound marketing is a way to connect with people online who are searching for something like your business offers. As we consume more information, research more products before buying, ask our friends for recommendations, and read blog posts to educate ourselves, there are many ways your brand can build authority and trust by using inbound marketing methods.
Are you new to inbound marketing or a little confused? Here are 10 of the most frequently asked questions we get about inbound marketing.
1. Inbound Marketing? Um, What Is That?
Some businesses still rely on traditional marketing methods like mailers, print and TV ads, or handing out branded keychains and T-shirts at events. With no real way to measure these methods, inbound marketing offers a measurable and optimizable alternative. Inbound marketing consists of marketing methods that attract leads based on their interest in the materials. These include:
- Content marketing, like blogs and whitepapers
- Social media marketing, like Facebook and Twitter posts
- Live events, like webinars or video chats
Whereas outbound marketing pushes a product on someone who might not even be the right target customer, inbound marketing attracts those who are already interested.
2. What Kind of Investment Do I Need to Make in Inbound Marketing?
Typically, an inbound marketing strategy costs no more than traditional marketing but can generate twice as many leads as outbound – and the leads are higher-quality. Costs will vary depending on:
- The amount of optimization you need to do to your website, since search engine optimization (SEO) affects inbound
- Whether or not you need to create a social media presence and blog from scratch
- How many landing pages, offers and calls to action you currently have in place on your website
Once you create these basic inbound marketing building blocks, automation makes inbound marketing efforts easier and less expensive over time than the initial set-up is.
3. What Are the Benefits of Using an Agency for Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing becomes more effective over time. When you have more stellar content, it brings you more great leads more quickly. Setting up an optimal inbound marketing strategy from the beginning can help to make your work more efficient, so you’re not wasting time and money in the beginning stages.
As the strategy is implemented, effectively measuring and optimizing your plan helps keep you on the track to success. An agency that is experienced in inbound marketing can quickly set up campaigns and measuring tools, synthesize reports, and use analytics to improve your business strategy. Giving these tasks to someone in-house who is inexperienced with inbound marketing software or who is learning while on the job can stall your efforts. Some agencies will even work with your marketing specialist and give them the opportunity to learn to take over the role one day.
4. How Can I Measure Inbound Marketing?
- Qualified leads
- Social media growth
- Most popular blog posts
- Landing page effectiveness
- Customer acquisition cost
- Time spent on site
- Conversion rate
- And more!
As you can see from these measurable inbound marketing metrics, there is so much power in the analytics you get from inbound marketing. Even with a website measurement tool like Google Analytics, you can set up conversion goals and measure them to see if your inbound marketing efforts are working.
5. When Will I See Results from Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing takes time to garner results, but these are often more significant for a longer period of time compared to outbound marketing. HubSpot says it can take about 6 months to see substantial results from inbound marketing efforts. This is because a business needs to:
- Create a blog, create social media channels, and optimize a website
- Wait for content to be indexed by search engines, which takes proper optimization, content consumption, and sharing
- Grow social media followings so that content is shared organically
The more high-quality content a website has, and the more sites that link to that content, the more exponential growth a business can achieve. Knowing that the first half-year to a year will require time and dedication to get your inbound marketing efforts flowing, a business can look forward to reaping rewards soon after that.
6. Which Types of Inbound Marketing Should I Use?
Since there are so many types of inbound marketing for a business to use – blog posts, whitepapers, landing pages, social media, webinars, etc. – it can be difficult for businesses to decide where to put their resources.
The best way to determine what type of inbound marketing to use is to consult buyer personas to determine the kind of content your target customers enjoy consuming. If you’re a B2B software company targeting high-level executives, whitepapers should be part of your inbound marketing strategy. Are you a food product B2C with an arsenal of gorgeously mouthwatering photography? Make sure to use social media, including Instagram.
A technical webinar or Twitter party may not make sense for your brand. Use your buyer personas to decide your priorities.
7. What Type of Content Should I Create?
Successful inbound marketing requires that a business start thinking like a publisher. Imagine you now create and send out a monthly magazine. What content would go in it?
If you’re stuck, send out a survey to existing customers about what they want to see from your brand. Use your buyer personas to get an idea of the type of content your customers and target leads already consume. How can your brand use this information as inspiration and differentiate itself?
Use a list of the most commonly asked questions your customer service team gets to come up with blog topics that answer them. Use keyword research to drive content ideation. Take your 10 most popular products or services, and come up with a few content ideas around each one. Think about the needs of your customers, and devise content that helps them.
As you share content, be sure to have effective measurement capabilities in place that show you what content is working, so you can continue to optimize your strategy. Blog posts or content that doesn’t do as well shouldn’t be altogether dismissed. Perhaps it can be tweaked and reused in a different way.
8. How Will Inbound Marketing Efforts Affect My Website Design?
Many businesses wonder about whether or not adopting an inbound marketing strategy means they’ll have to redesign their website. Some changes are probably needed, depending on how far along you are with integrating inbound strategies already. Some ways inbound marketing affects website design include:
- You’ll need to add a blog page and add a blog tab to navigation
- Social media channels should be integrated on every page
- Custom landing pages will need to be designed for inbound marketing campaigns, as well as forms and thank you pages
- You may integrate a live chat option to capture leads who visit your website
Adopting an inbound marketing mindset requires shifting from the billboard-like view of a website to one that focuses on creating a stimulating user experience. Leads get nurtured with content and engagement channels like social media. When they’re ready to contact you or purchase, it’s easy to do through your website.
9. Do I Still Need Inbound Marketing If I’m Using Paid Advertising?
For businesses using paid advertising, the high visibility and easy measurement of campaigns may make it seem like that’s good enough for digital efforts. While pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is highly valuable for quickly getting a high amount of eyeballs on a campaign you want to promote, businesses need to remember the long-term value of inbound marketing:
- Interesting content gets shared organically by content consumers
- As content continues to be consumed, its prominence in search engines rises naturally
- As social media followings increase, content reach increases, as well
You can also use PPC campaigns to promote your best content. The boost content gets from PPC can help to increase its organic reach, too.
Ultimately, the best way to determine where you want to put your marketing dollars is through measurement. Keep in mind that inbound marketing increases in effectiveness over the long term, though. You can use PPC in the beginning stages to ramp up your content, and then use PPC to promote great pieces once you’re going.
10. How Can I Maximize My Inbound Marketing’s Effectiveness?
In addition to working with an agency that has the expertise to set up a successful inbound marketing strategy based on your unique business needs, use these tips to maximize inbound marketing effectiveness.
- Capture those leads. Make sure every piece of content has an easy way to get in touch with your brand. Whether it’s through live chat, a blog subscription form, a CTA to contact you, or prominent contact information on the page (or all of the above!), encourage content consumers to keep the conversation going with your business.
- Use buyer personas to drive your strategy. Inbound marketing is not about guesswork. Knowing your customers before you start will make your efforts more effective and efficient. Create content that is valuable to them, and target them when you’re growing your social media accounts.
- Align SEO, inbound, customer service and sales. Inbound marketing is a holistic strategy that takes the needs and best practices from throughout your sales, customer service and marketing departments, and turns that into content that benefits leads and customers. Get feedback from sales and customer service on what type of content would help their efforts. Make sure all content is optimized for search engines so that it has a better chance of getting seen by those searching for it.
- Measure and optimize. Watch what’s working by using your analytics tool. Use successes to drive strategy, and see where weaknesses are so you can avoid them or improve upon them.
Yes, it’s true that inbound marketing has many moving parts to track. When you decide to dedicate the resources to doing so, you can enjoy leads coming into your business from your overall efforts, which improve over time.
Work with Inbound Marketing Experts for Your Business
If you want to improve your inbound marketing strategy or see how inbound marketing can work for your business, AlphaMind Studios will provide you with a free inbound marketing consultation. We love showing businesses of all types how using content and connecting better with customers can help them grow.
Contact us online, or call (303) 832-8193 for more information.